- The Trophy Tour stopped off in Paris on Tuesday
- Fans flocked to admire the trophy and recall France 1998
- France's World Cup winners reunited for the occasion
The FIFA World Cup™ Trophy Tour by Coca-Cola brought the famous prize back to familiar surroundings on Tuesday as the roving event stopped off in Paris. A large crowd of admirers were joined by members of France's victorious team from 1998 as the Trophy returned to the French capital – where Les Bleus became the last side to win the competition on home soil.
The festivities began in grand style at the Eiffel Tower, where the golden statuette was joined by FIFA Legend Marcel Desailly and Russia 2018 Ambassador Victoria Lopyreva.
"Argentina, Brazil and the Netherlands were better than us," Desailly told FIFA.com, looking back on France's triumphant campaign in 1998. "It was pure adrenaline, based on the fact we were playing at home, that allowed the France team to raise its level of play. That squad's ability to turn pressure into positive energy helped us pull off a great performance."
Next up for the Trophy was a trip to Les Halles in the heart of Paris, where large numbers of people were treated to an exhibition commemorating France's World Cup victory. Framed shirts, iconic photographs and video clips all transported the public back in time, along with coach Aime Jacquet's famous black notebook and the flipchart used to outline the France team's programme of activities on the day of the Final, 12 July 1998.
The star of the show, of course, was the timeless Trophy itself, which drew countless fans keen to pose for a photo. Only France's World Cup winners were able to get their hands on it, however, just as they had 20 years earlier.
Among those present were Christophe Dugarry, Emmanuel Petit, Franck Leboeuf, Alain Boghossian and Christian Karembeu, all of whom contested the Final against Brazil. Squad members Vincent Candela and Lionel Charbonnier were in attendance too, along with Jacquet's assistant Roger Lemerre, and each of them were visibly moved to relive the highlight of their professional careers.
Speaking to radio station RMC, who gathered the players together for a live show from the exhibition, Petit summed up the mood. "You never get tired of it, and I'm actually surprised to see that the public's enthusiasm is still just as strong 20 years later," said the former midfielder, who scored France's third goal in the 3-0 Final win. "We left our mark on a whole generation, and even the generations that have come since."
"I was inspired by the Platini generation, but they weren't able to win this," added Leboeuf, before sending a message to the France team preparing at Clairefontaine for their next two international friendlies. "We didn't have a French example to follow when we became world champions. The advantage the current team has is that they can tell themselves it's possible."
"The 1998 generation touched people because it wasn't necessarily a team of stars to begin with," explained Boghossian. "It was a team that came together and got stronger throughout the tournament, with players who came to the fore by demonstrating their solidarity with each other." That solidarity clearly remains. Delighted to catch up on the Trophy Tour, France's ground-breaking brothers-in-arms will meet again for an exhibition match in Nanterre on 12 June.
The World Cup Trophy Tour will be on the move as well, with Germany the next stop on 22 March. The route then continues to Norway, Finland and Iceland, before the Trophy takes to the skies for the South American leg.